In this issue Broadcast Film & Video speaks exclusively to VP of newsrooms at CGI Michael Pfitzner. He discusses the announcement that SCISYS Media Solutions rebranded to CGI in April and how it will give the company more opportunities to take advantage of product development capacities to innovate in a much faster way. Michael also talks about how 2020 has been a very challenging year for broadcasters and how the firm has seen an increase in the pickup of its Web-based remote workflows.

Can we begin by talking about the announcement that SCISYS Media Solutions rebranded to CGI in April? What does this mean for the company?

Being part of CGI now, offers us a lot more opportunities to extend our global reach, yet follow a client-proximity model, as well as taking advantage of strong product development capacities to innovate in a much faster way. As SCISYS, we had already built well established relationships with the world’s leading broadcasters, and have over 75,000 active users worldwide. In combination with CGIs customer base, and its new offerings for the media industry, we can now offer our clients premium solutions for professional radio workflows, media management, and leading platforms for newsroom planning. 

How is the group continuing to support the broadcast community with its premium solutions for professional radio workflows and media management during the pandemic?

With the fluctuation of the global economy and the ongoing pandemic, broadcasters are under extreme editorial and financial pressures. CGI is perfectly positioned to solve the challenges of broadcasting newsroom and radio stations, and recognises the importance of staying connected, especially when many organisations have no choice but to adapt to remote methodologies, all whilst remaining cost and time efficient. All of our solutions enable journalists to research, structure and plan their deliveries in advance, optimising efforts. 

The platforms draw on the importance of storytelling, allowing journalists to share topics and contributions across TV, radio and online to achieve a more cohesive end result, regardless of distance or location. In radio journalism, the dira! product family covers the entire production workflow required for media management and Viura offers visual radio, an increasingly popular method of radio broadcasters to reach new users. One of our German broadcasting clients, launched a critical communications visual radio show in order to get the latest, top level information from politicians, to citizens.

CGI news and radio production solutions are of great benefit to many journalists and they support remote learning. Can you tell me more about the platforms and the importance of storytelling?

2020 has been a year of very unique challenges for broadcasters, and as remote delivery has become the most viable solution, we have seen an increase in pickup of our Web-based remote workflows, and an interest in our solutions to help journalists connect with each other, as well as research and deliver content effectively no matter where they are working from. With the crisis of the pandemic reaching all corners of the globe, continuing the story, and communicating with the public was put at the forefront of importance for broadcasters, while at the same time they were forced to lockdown, or work remotely. Our solutions offer flexibility with ensuring the right, most up to date story gets out in the most efficient way. 

Can you tell me more about the newsroom solution OpenMedia. Is it already in use worldwide as a standard tool for research, planning and creation of daily news, magazines and sports publications?

OpenMedia has been supporting broadcasters news production workflows for more than 30 years and is a pioneer in cross-media news research and planning using multi-platform distribution. OpenMedia offers a cutting edge newsroom production technology to combat how rapid digitisation changes the elements of storytelling. Information must now be researched, planned and processed more quickly than ever before covering TV, radio, social media and online channels. OpenMedia assists storytellers in navigating the complex newsrooms of today, making the process of planning more efficient and productive.

We have learned now, that during times of crises as we are in, news production needs to be even faster in capturing breaking news and distributing them simultaneously across the various channels and OpenMedia has become more essential than ever. We also have seen an increase in interest in our browser-based solutions like NewsBoard since they support remote work for the journalists, and users can contribute to storyboards from anywhere, while our automated story centric workflow processes in OpenMedia’s Studio Director help to balance the current lack of resources on site, by sorting through the ever increasing content using AI capabilities.

Am I correct in saying the dira! product family covers the entire production workflow required for media management in radio journalism?

The dira! solution suite encompasses the entire production workflow required for media management in radio journalism: from broadcast production and the exchange of material and programs, through broadcast scheduling, to actual on-air playout, post production and archiving. Originally derived from “digital radio,” dira! today means much more than radio solutions. It represents a direct, intelligent, reliable and adaptable suite of television, radio, newsroom and new media production and playout applications supporting the core workflows that any broadcaster needs, covered by a proven digital system. Additionally, Viura is a solution for intelligent camera control in radio studios for editors and presenters and works manufacturer-independent from playout, and editorial software on the basis of selected video hardware.

Following the announcement that many big trade shows in the broadcast and media industry have been cancelled this year, is the company working on alternative concepts to stay connected with customers and partners?

Absolutely – we have been producing various types of training material including brochures, demo videos and webinars as well as conducting joint activities with our key industry partners to showcase recent integrations into our platforms, alongside potential integration possibilities that our solutions offer. We are also honing in on the advantages that being a part of CGI provides us, including its cohesive operational excellence, which has allowed us to offer our clients and prospects an even wider spectrum during this time where their needs are swiftly changing.

What does the future hold for CGI?

As the industry continues the shift to IP, broadcasters will have more freedom to switch from pure legacy broadcast technology, to a variety of IT solutions in order to optimise and futureproof workflows. This development is in our favour as being part of CGI, since they have been one of the top IT and business consulting services for over 40 years; we can now offer the media world a larger spectrum of IT solutions on top of our newsroom and radio production expertise, which we are continuing to develop to support our clients in navigating through the unpredictable to be able to respond to the unprecedented, rebound at the right place, and reinvent new ways of working.